We were about to take a day trip from Fort Lauderdale to Busch Gardens, but the four hour drive made it almost impossible. We opted to stay at a hotel about two minutes from the park. We would drive up and go to the park on the same day and leave the next day.
We hit the road at 6:40 and arrived at the park at 11 with two stops on the way. As we arrived, a bunch of coach buses full of camps were unloading. The park was packed on a Friday, however most schools in Florida are out. It was 99 degrees for most of the day. Park closing was at 10 pm. We all bought the Fun Pass for $89 so we could get unlimited visits from now to December 31, 2013. It's a really good deal. The park was tidy and the employees were nice as can be. I'll go over what we did in the order that we did each ride.
- Cheetah Hunt - the sign outside said 45 minutes. All trains were running, so operations were pretty fast. The ride was better than it was last time. I rode in front so I could capture a POV with my GoPro (which they allow here with a chest mount). Full of airtime on every hill and smooth as hell. We all loved it.
- Montu - 5 minutes posted in front; essentially was a walk-on. This was also better than last time. Rode in the front again. The last time we were here in December, it was ~40 degrees out, so the ride was slow, but this time it felt really fast. The trims before the batwing were on pretty hard, but it didn't really hurt the ride. The drop off the MCBR is overly-banked and feels awesome! The last wingover produced some headbanging, which is expected because it is taken with quite some speed (similar to the Batman clones). Ride in the back right; the first drop produces some tasty lats, especially for a B&M invert. Save the front for when it's pitch black!
- Gwazi - 30 min wait posted. Operations were sooo slow with two trains on the side that's still open (Lion?). Some players from the Bucks were riding. There was a camera crew there. I rode on the same train as them on Kumba. We rode in the yellow train and it wasn't as rough as it was last time. Unexpected ejector air at some parts. Call me crazy, but I enjoyed Gwazi a lot.
- Next we walked around at the Edge of Africa section. My group wanted to do Ubanga-Banga, the park's bumper cars. I opted to take a spin on Kumba.
- Kumba - the sign said 30 minutes, the wait was more like 15. Trains 1 and 4 were running. I took a ride in the back of train 1 and it was very smooth up until after the MCBR. The corkscrews are really rough but there's no headbanging. The Zero-G Roll is epic and unlike any other I've been on. The cobra roll knocks you out and it feels like it's still going 65 mph at that part (it probably is). I think the ride has gotten a lot louder since I was last there. The track is starting to rust again, but it isn't in desperate need of a paint job. If you sit in the back, you can see each car shuffling. There looks to be nothing wrong with the running rails, so I'm guessing that the ride would be smooth again if the trains were replaced entirely.
- We ate at the buffet near Orangutan Outpost. The food was good. Next was SheiKra.
- SheiKra - 10 min wait posted, the line was just down the first part of the stairs. I waited for the front and sat in the middle. The new paint looks really fresh and breathed some more life into the ride. Smooth as ever and the drop was really good. The giant Immelmann was floaty and they didn't stop us completely on the brake run, so there was a lot of airtime. Does anybody know why they haven't swapped out the square water scoops for the rounded ones? I thought the square ones were for the winter. We got off and on right away and by now it was just a station wait. We opted for the back. If you sit in the back, leave some space between your thighs and the restraint so you get extra airtime on the first drop. I greyed out on the first drop. Definitely 5 Gs.
- By now it felt like 110 degrees outside, so we walked over to Congo River Rapids to cool down. 15 min wait posted, they changed it to 35 a while after we got in line. Operations were really fast. All the lockers were full, so we had to wait for someone to retrieve their stuff from one. I got the most soaked out of our group, but I had said before that I wanted to get soaked. Be careful what you wish for because you just might get it! :D. You get some good views of Kumba from the station.
- We wanted to ride Kumba so we could dry off while riding. I rode in the back with 2 of my friends while the rest rode in row 7. Still awesome. Almost everyone in my group hated it because it wasn't as smooth as everything we had ridden before. It was around 6 pm at that time and they wanted to leave. We took Walkabout Way to the exit. Almost all of the kangaroos were asleep. However, the Emu was very lively. It almost bit my friend! They got picked up and I stayed at the park to get my money's worth. Since I walked them to the exit and Cheetah Hunt had a 25 min wait, so I went to Montu instead. Took 2 rides in the back without getting up from my seat. The sun was starting to set by now.
- Next, I took the Skyride over to Kumba. The Skyride offers some great views of the whole park. Kumba had no wait, and they were sending out almost empty trains. I took 3 rides in the front, 2 rides in the back, and 1 ride in the middle. It was almost pitch black out, which enhanced the tunnel at the end. If you ride all the way on the right, you can touch the ground during the final helix (which has really strong Gs), but don't do it. I did it and it felt like my hand got shocked. The person checking heights near the entrance commented on my GoPro and told me about how he had to record for a special event somewhere (I couldn't really hear him) and said he had to edit all the clips together and asked if I was going to do that. He was pretty cool. After a total of 8 rides on Kumba, I wanted to go check Scorpion's line. There was a line and they launch the one train once every 7 minutes (or so it feels like), so I skipped it and went back over to Cheetah Hunt. Nothing was going on as far as Falcon's Fury goes besides a large fence advertising the ride.
- 15 mins posted out front, but it was just a station wait. I rode in the back, where the airtime hill after the third launch is best. So much better at night! Someone even shouted that out during the ride. It was now almost time for closing, so I ran over to Montu, where someone had dropped something during the ride. The train sat in the station for about 15 mins. I rode in the front. I actually blacked out this time at the end of the first vertical loop. The zero g roll has the same feeling as Kumba's, where it throws you in every direction. Once again the batwing was insane. The MCBR was barely on during this run. The park was now closing.
I was there for 11 hours! We hauled the next morning, making it home in 3 and a half hours. I had a great time. Busch Gardens really is an amazing park, and in my opinion the best theme park.
Photos (I had to take them all with my iPhone):
More pictures to come!